High cholesterol symptoms: Are your toenails brittle? You could have clogged arteries

High cholesterol: Nutritionist reveals top prevention tips

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The blood constitutes various elements, including oxygen, nutrients and lipids that carry out specific roles. But some lipids, such as low-density lipoprotein, are harmful because they collect on the inner lining of the arteries, causing them to thicken over time. In the advanced stages, the condition is medically recognised as peripheral artery disease. Nails that become discoloured, thick and brittle could be waning of advanced arterial clogging.

The nail changes result from blockages in the arteries in the legs, but vessels leading to the brain and heart can also become affected.

When such organs become deprived of nutrient-rich blood, they can shut down, causing a stroke or heart attack.

But blockages are often preceded by a gradual build-up of cholesterol-filled plaque, which may present warning signs.

As the vascular passageways become narrowed, the extremities are less likely to receive the oxygen-rich they need.

For this reason, changes tend to become apparent in the toes and fingers, and nails.

According to the Advanced Foot & Ankle Centre: “Even though it is hard to know how much build-up may be on your arterial walls, there are signs that can indicate potential problems in your left or feet.

“These may include changes in toenails, such as thickening, discolouration, or brittleness.”

However, the health body adds that other alarming symptoms may signal that the situation has become critical.

“The most serious signs of PAD are pain or cramping in the legs and feet when walking even short distances,” it adds.

“In the early stages, this will usually go away when resting and then come back with activity. If the pain persists even when resting it may be more advanced.

“Testing for peripheral arterial disease can be done using blood pressure cuffs applied to the legs, feet and arms to measure arterial pressure and blood flow.

“The machine readings will indicate if there is a decreased amount of blood flow and a potential problem,” explains the Advanced Foot & Ankle Centre.

If it transpires that a patient’s arteries are affected by plaque, they may be offered statins.

Other lifestyle measures, however, can be just as effective to reverse symptoms associated with peripheral artery disease.

How to manage high cholesterol

Ridding the body of harmful blood lipids starts with limiting the intake of unhealthful fats, which are typically saturated or trans-unsaturated.

But making healthful dietary additions can also produce promising results.

Consuming between five to 10 grams of soluble fibre per day can significantly decrease LDL cholesterol.

This is because soluble fibre turns into gel during digestion, which allows it to bind to fatty molecules and drag them out of the body.

Other foods renowned for their cholesterol-busting qualities include plant sterols, also found in vegetables and legumes, which block cholesterol by racing against it for absorption.

Previous studies have shown that combining all aforementioned dietary elements could lower cholesterol levels by up to 30 percent.

And researchers have said that such evidence presents a strong case for personalising nutrition to combat high cholesterol.

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